This used to be one of my favorite bumper stickers. I thought it summed up nicely what ought to be said about mean people. And I thought it was funny. I’m not so sure any more. Maybe I thought more of cute, childish, prank-ish mean like what you would see on Dennis the Menace or old Three Stooges shorts. You know, where people really don’t get hurt hurt and everyone is laughing at the end.
Mean turns out to be much worse.
Apparently some people just don’t mean any good for others. Some want to do actual physical harm. They are a “bottomless pit of ill-will and despair.” They deliberately set out to do physical and/or mental harm to others for God only knows what reason.
To wit, again:
Just this past week a group of children in Massachusetts apparently bullied another child to the point where she decided she didn’t want to live anymore, so she killed herself. In Georgia several months ago a similar situation happened. And remember the boy in Florida who is recovering from being set on fire by his classmates? There have been many others throughout the country. Pick your horror story. If students aren’t bullying each other in grade school; it seems they are hazing each other in college. Having been a teacher in private and public schools, and having taught elementary, middle, and high school, I can tell you first hand that it does go on. I can also tell you that many teachers, camp counselors, and overseers don’t take it as seriously as it should be taken. Obviously. I have seen and heard first hand of grown-ups who think that either bullying or getting bullied is a “natural part of growing up.” Some think it makes you somehow tougher and more ready for the “real world.” What does THAT mean? Some even disdain parents who home school for wanting to take their children out of this environment. They need to be socialized they say. Really? To this?
There is a “debate” going on now to determine whether administrators and teachers should be held responsible. Of course they should. When parents turn their children over to others, in loco parentis, those to whom they turn them over are responsible to keep them safe–physically, emotionally, and psychologically. If they aren’t responsible then who is? Teachers (and parents sometimes) tell children all the time to “grow up” or “ignore it.” When will we realize that it isn’t that simple? Just say stop. Just say no. It doesn’t work. Bullies and drug dealers will seize upon that as a sign of weakness and will move in for the kill or the thrill.
These days it seems that a lot of meanness on display out there. Maybe we need to figure out what happened and why. If not, then the mean shall inherit the earth.